Tag Archives: income

retirement

75% of People Not on Track for Retirement

A new study shows that three in four Canadians are not on track for retirement. With the recent economic turmoil, many working Canadians are struggling to make ends meet as it is. The same survey indicated that half the population is living paycheck to paycheck, and very few have any emergency savings built up. Living in the moment means that they’re not focused on retirement goals, and many expect to be working several more years as a result.

Although workplace pensions, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Old Age Security (OAS) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) can provide funds, it’s often not enough. Moreover, the higher your income is now, the less likely you are to have your future needs met by these types of programs. If you’re among the 75% who are not on track to retire, here are the changes you need to make now:

Take a Hard Look at the Money Coming In

You’ll need to set a budget, but long before you get to it you must have a full accounting of how much money is coming into the household. Then, you’ll need to deduct between 20% and 30% of the gross for emergency expenses and retirement. Focus on building emergency savings that will cover you for three to six months first.

Eliminate Bad Debts

Carrying a balance for a mortgage or vehicle isn’t usually a problem, but more and more Canadians are maxing out credit cards and racking up other smaller debts. These things should also be knocked out of the way first.

Say Goodbye to Luxury Spending

While the older population is much better at assessing value and affordability, the younger generation is geared toward luxury items. Expensive cars, lavish clothing and trending technology add to debt. If you aren’t on track for retirement, and you’re carrying unnecessary debts, you should get yourself back on track and only purchase essential and value-oriented products.

Reevaluate Your Investment Choices

Unfortunately, many investment firms take a chunk of payments, and they fail to deliver in returns. Do a cost-benefit analysis and see if you need to consider moving your money to another firm or program. Diversification, both on a local and international level, is essential, as it provides a kind of insurance in case the economy falters. Think beyond stocks, as well. Bonds, commodities and real estate holdings can provide extra layers of security.

Use a Budgeting Program

There are numerous options available, but they all serve the same essential function. Using software or an app to track expenses takes the brainwork out of it and enables you to stick to your budget without having to work so hard.

Incrementally Increase Retirement Savings

As you pay off your debts and eliminate your mortgage, and your children become self-sufficient, you’ll obviously have more money to spend on yourself. Many people jump into doing the things they’ve been holding off on, like vacations and home remodels, but this becomes a slippery slope. As you find yourself free of expenses and debts, it’s imperative to increase your retirement savings, as well. During your last decade or two of work, your goal should be buildings toward setting aside 60% of your income for retirement. Some of the cash should go into savings, but a fair amount should be invested into dividend-paying stocks, which will add a steady trickle of supplemental cash as your non-working days progress.

Reevaluate Your Goals and Get Expert Advice

Even though most people can benefit from visiting with a financial planner, very few people do. You don’t have to be wealthy to benefit from one, either. A financial planner can help you figure out ways to minimize debts and how to save and may be able to help you get lower interest rates on the debts you already carry. If you choose not to visit a financial planner, you should still reevaluate your budget and strategy on a regular basis. This way, you can find ways to increase your savings if you aren’t setting aside enough, or enjoy more of your income now, provided you’re on track for retirement.

There was a time when a person could outright retire at a certain age, but it’s not like that any more. Today’s workers have to contribute more on their own to be able to maintain the same standard of living, and they have to work longer to be prepared. It’s still possible to retire at about the age your parents and grandparents did, but it requires more planning on your part.

5 Insurance Apps to Download Today

Forward-thinking insurance companies are leveraging technology to improve customer experience and differentiate themselves from the competition. Here are the top five insurance apps you should download today, to help with tasks ranging from creating a home inventory to improving your driving skills.

  1. Home Gallery App
    Cost:
    Free
    Benefit: Helps you create a home inventory

A home inventory makes filing an insurance claim easier should your things be stolen or damaged. It also gives you an estimate of how much your possessions are worth, which is helpful when you shop for homeowners insurance. Fortunately, the Home Gallery app from Liberty Mutual makes cataloging your possessions a cinch. The app allows you to take photos of your items, note important information such as purchase price and date and share your inventory with family members or your insurer. Best yet, you can use the Home Gallery app whether or not you’re a Liberty Mutual customer.

  1. Driver Feedback App
    Cost:
    Free
    Benefit: Gives you information to become a better driver

State Farm’s Driver Feedback app helps you become aware of driving habits that increase your chance of being involved in an accident, which could raise your auto insurance premium. The app uses your smartphone’s accelerometer and GPS locator to collect data about how you brake, corner and accelerate. Once you arrive at your destination, the app gives you a score for your trip and offers tips about how to improve your driving.

Using the Driver Feedback app, you can also compare data from one trip with another and share the results via email or text. These features can help new drivers form good driving habits and allow parents to monitor their teen’s performance behind the wheel. Plus, using a driving app is one way your teen might reduce her auto insurance premium. You don’t need to be insured with State Farm to use the app, and your driving data isn’t shared with your insurance company.

  1. Text4Baby App
    Cost:
    Free
    Benefit:
    Provides tips to help expectant moms stay healthy during pregnancy

The Text4Baby app provides pregnant women with a wealth of information to help them have a healthy pregnancy and avoid preventable complications. When a mom signs up, she receives a “starter pack” of messages. Then, every week, she receives three text messages about prenatal care, ranging from doctor appointment reminders to information about symptoms that could warrant concern.

Major insurance providers, like Aetna, CIGNA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, are Text4Baby “outreach partners.” This means the companies encourage expectant moms to use the app to stay healthy, which can reduce the chance of complications that can make pregnancy-related costs skyrocket.

  1. Infinity App
    Cost:
    Free
    Benefit:
    Allows you to create a secure digital inventory

The MetLife Infinity app gives you the power to create a digital inventory of photos, videos and audio files, plus important documents like wills and insurance policies. The app stores as much as five GB of data in the cloud, and it’s password-protected and permanently backed up. You can organize your information in collections and securely share the information with anyone, from a family member to your insurance agent. You can take advantage of the app even if you’re not a MetLife policyholder.

  1. Defend Your Income
    Cost:
    Free
    Benefit: Explains how a disability can affect your life

Defend Your Income is an online game produced by the Council for Disability Awareness. Its goal is to help you understand how a disability may affect your life. Throughout the game you defend yourself from health-related issues like pregnancy complications, cancer, and respiratory disease. After you complete each round, you answer trivia questions and learn miscellaneous facts about the disability.

By the end of the game, you’re more aware of your disability likelihood and have an idea of how much income you could lose if you become disabled. This information is useful when you’re calculating the amount of disability insurance you need.

These apps are transforming the insurance industry by elevating customer service to a new level. Download one or more of them and then share your experience. We’d love to hear your thoughts.